A Wall Street Journal article captured our attention with the statement, “real leadership often involves not just doing tough things — but having the courage not to do the easy things.”
This was in reference to former President George H.W. Bush, but it’s a statement that’s applicable to all leaders. Just like strategy involves defining what not to do, perhaps leadership also involves the discipline of not doing things.
Here is a list of things to consider leaving OUT of your leadership:
- Demanding respect instead of earning respect. Be worthy of others respect by keeping your word, being open and honest with your capabilities and shortcomings, asking first and telling second, and showing up on time (this demonstrates you respect other people’s time.) It’s easy to demand, but a lot harder to do the work and earn respect.
- Demeaning or bullying. When times get tough and there is a difficult situation to deal with, do you take responsibility or blame and explain? Is your language kind, polite and full or grace or do you talk down to others, insulting them? It’s easy to blame, harder to take responsibility, harder still to take responsibility when it’s not “your fault.”
- Distrust or lack of confidence. Be trustworthy and extend that belief to others. If they prove otherwise, then take appropriate action. Do you have an employee who is untrustworthy? If they truly cannot be relied upon, then why are they still working for you?
- Domination or acting tough. Confusing aggression with strength is a leadership mistake. No matter how high your position, there is always someone above you. Even CEO’s report to their Board. This doesn’t mean that the organization gets run by consensus. Leaders must be strong and make the difficult decisions. As a leader the buck stops with you, and you alone are the one who must deal with the consequences of the final decision.
- Denying the truth. There will always be people who tell you what you want to hear. If you believe them and tune out all other voices, you risk living in denial. This is a common cause of leadership failure.
Remember, leadership is not a position it’s an action. Anyone who can influence the actions of the people surrounding him or her is a leader. A sign of a great leader is the actions taken and the actions avoided, even when that goes against public opinion.